AT&T is the best network in the US, say AT&T consultants

45743449.jpg Randall Stross writes that the iPhone itself is largely responsible for faults commonly blamed on AT&T's 3G network. The story, published by the New York Times, offers AT&T consultants as sources, and doesn't address the fact that only users in the U.S. (where AT&T is the sole carrier) report the chronic issues at hand. One could say that Gruber delivers a killing blow, but Stross' piece is quite daft, so it's more like a sanity insurance policy to ensure it never attains life. Photo: Mike Boylan. (via)


  1. My work phone is a Verizon Motorola 325i. My personal cell phone is a Tilt 2 (AT&T’s Touch Pro 2).

    Admittedly, my verizon phone does have better signal strength in most places I go, but my Tilt 2 has never experienced the drop call nonsense that Iphone users complain about.

    1. iPhone problems on AT&T don’t seem to affect users in all areas, just places where the network is easily overwhelmed, which amounts to many, many iPhone users. Traveling with an unlocked 3G iPhone, I have found flawless reception, but then most countries use only GSM. In San Francisco, I can count on the phone dropping a call whenever I go over a hill.

  2. AT&T and it’s consultants can say whatever they want, there are still major flaws in their service … and they are the ones to blame. They’re the ones that forced iPhone owners into an unlimited data price plan. Now all that so-called “unlimited” data is backfiring on them, and now they’re positioning themselves to ask users to limit their data usage. They were not prepared for the iPhone when it launch, and still aren’t capable of supporting this device now. Nothing like better-late-than-never MMS, and the yet-to-be-seen tethering support from AT&T. The iPhone is a great media device/phone that is being severely watered down by AT&T’s horrible service. I look forward to dropping at least 4-5 business calls tomorrow.

  3. The signal is clouded by individuals intense desire to identify with the things they own in a deeply personal way. We are essentially the sum of our possessions, and it is confusing our gadgets, so taken are they by our love. Curse this modern era.

  4. “Apple, send your marketing wizards to lend your partner a hand. It sorely needs help.

    AT&T, send some engineers to redesign the iPhone to make better use of the country’s fastest wireless network.

    Randall Stross is an author based in Silicon Valley and a professor of business at San Jose State University.”

    SJSU, send Randall Stross to a journalism class.

  5. As with most things, the answer seems to be ‘a little from column A, a little from column B.’

    It is certainly possible that the iPhone is not the best phone (in terms of connectivity) on the market. I’ve seen people more knowledgeable than I complain about the chipset it uses, and at least one person bitching about antenna design. There has definitely been firmware upgrades that have mitigated some problems.

    OTOH, AT&T ranks lowest in the CR poll for a reason. I’ve seen numerous complaints about (non-iphone) connectivity IN MANHATTAN. If there’s one place you have no excuse not to cover, that’s probably it.

    (Personally, I’ve had no complaints either way.)

  6. These maps wars seem silly to me. Who cares if the wolves and bears get good coverage, tell me how you perform in the city.

    1. When the bears and wolves are surrounding you on the roadside you’ll start caring more. When my phone is having problems in the city it is annoying, when my phone is having problems outside the city it is potentially dangerous. I have travelled extensively for work for over a decade and my experience has been that when there are coverage problems, I prefer them where I have easy options (in the city) rather than where I am potentially stranded (out on the highway with the bears and wolves as you say)

  7. “These maps wars seem silly to me. Who cares if the wolves and bears get good coverage, tell me how you perform in the city.”

    How’s the coverage in your basement?

    1. He mentioned city. As a city dweller, “what’s a basement?” You mean the parking garage under my building?

  8. I’m kinda surprised the NY Times printed this-it is obvious astroturfing by AT&T, and it is embarrassing Stross didn’t bother to even make an effort to give any other side to the debate.

  9. Alls I gots to say is this: Every 6 months or so I price out AT&T versus T-Mobile (which I have) and others. And no matter how sexy the iPhone is, I can’t justify going with AT&T.

    But if Apple can get T-Mobile on board OR create an iPod Touch with a camera in it, KACHING… You have my money and the money of tons of others who are sick of cell phone monopolies.

  10. “Alls I gots to say is this: Every 6 months or so I price out AT&T versus T-Mobile (which I have) and others. And no matter how sexy the iPhone is, I can’t justify going with AT&T.”

    So does T-Mobile do six month price-outs?

    1. “So does T-Mobile do six month price-outs?”

      Nope. But I do in my cycle of desire for this and reality. Besides, the best known secret about iPhones is how horrible they are as phones. And I need me a phone.

  11. AT&T’s network problems completely depend on where you are and to some extent the phone you’ve got.

    What I know through hearsay (ask anyone in telecom)…
    1 they don’t use the same vendor throughout their network. Certain vendors are better than others. Interoperability between vendors can be a problem… i.e. switching between two RNCs.
    2 older 3G equipment doesn’t work as well as the most recent stuff
    3 they’re tons better than the other GSM provider in the states

    Don’t know enough about verizon or sprint/nextel to compare. I do know that I’ve never had a dropped call* on my phones: 2.5G siemens, 2G Nokia (candybar… lost my pretty siemens from my backpack), 3G Samsung blackjack, and 3G Samsung Epix

    My wife’s phones on the other hand tends to drop calls after the phone itself has been dropped, abused, and drooled on by our 2 yr old.

    *there was a tiny deadspot on 161 through Los Colinas (near Irving, TX) I commuted through 4 years ago that would drop me everytime I went through it. I’m not sure if it’s still there or not.

  12. Living in Connecticut, I have used an iPhone for approx. 4 months now (since they dropped the price of the 3G(was already on AT&T, for better or worse)), and have had no connectivity problems/dropped calls. It has performed well and been an enjoyable experience (the phone). The GPS receiver seems a little weak, but in terms of voice/data no problems.

  13. AT&T is not great, been there since it was GTE, & iPhone is probably not to blame (thats not the same as apple is not to blame). Huh Huh; thatsnot. Anyway, while we all wait for tether support, maybe they are about to open up a super 7g network that gets everybody super 7g support for everything. Or maybe they wrote a check they won’t (can’t) cash. Doesn’t equal unwillingness, just engineer vs. mechanic on the back end. Also doesn’t mean we get anything, period. Such is life… Tehtering may come, but who will expect reliability from the folks that can’t handle flash game + gps signin traffic from (understandable) serious numbers. Unhappy people complain, unsatisfied customers change. Weigh yer options.

    1. That’s kind of a bizarre set of statements. Tethering as a feature is an absurd extravagance for a company that cannot even handle voice calls. I have had four dropped calls TODAY.

      There’s no technology that will erase the immense suckage that is AT&T. Yes, 4G/LTE is in testing now, and it should be available in limited areas. The specs look really terrific. But are you willing to lock into another AT&T contract in May 2010 with your new iPhone that can handle 4G? Fuck those guys. My trust is gone.

      Yes, they threw in MMS, but there’s additional network costs to MMS, since it tunnels over SMS. In terms of network management, there’s no sign that AT&T knows what the hell it is doing.

  14. So… having wrangled the deal to exclusively handle iphone contracts, clearly the best thing to do is publicly announce “All those connection problems? It’s the hardware’s fault.”

    If I were in Apple right now, I’ve be seriously considering cancelling the exclusivity, or at least giving it to an alternative phone network. Let’s see if we still have the same problems then…

  15. Network speed is meaningless for phone service, coverage and signal strength are all that counts … AT&T is behind an eight ball until they expand their network …

  16. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if there is some accuracy in the report — I live and work in the Washington, DC metro area and found AT&T provided better coverage and reliability when I switched from Sprint to get my iPhone. I haven’t experienced dropped calls or reduced call quality, except in circumstances where you’d expect it (subway, road tunnels, etc.) and the phone itself is much more reliable than my old Treo, which often crashed when someone called. Verizon-using friends have complained about losing data services while in underground metro stations. FWIW and YMMV.

  17. My company Blackberry (via AT&T) has possibly the worst performance I’ve ever had (with the exception of Spring). I carry my 4-year old Verizon plain jane phone for backup.

    I’ll get an IPHONE when Apple goes to Verizon.

  18. I lost my original 2G iPhone during a recent trip to Paris. I bought my 3G iPhone out of necessity, so now I’m paying a bit more per month. In terms of connection speed / downloading I believe it has the same speed as my old one. I’m not noticing any significant difference for the money I’ve paid..

  19. We have an AT&T family plan (my wife and daughter both have I-phones) and I have a Blackberry Bold for work. AT&T voice cell service is miserable on all these devices. I drive 20 miles to work in Washington DC each day, and can count on at least five places where I can count on calls being dropped.

  20. I’ve been with Verizon, Sprint and AT&T in the past few years. Tried them all as I have moved for my job and switched things around. Currently I am with AT&T in the So-Cal area and have had an iPhone for a few years now.

    I have had a few dropped calls, some at pretty inconvenient times… but what really makes the difference for me is the Customer service and support.

    No company I have EVER used even comes close to the customer support I have received from AT&T. Sim Card problem? No Problem. too many text messages? No Problem. Need help with international stuff? No Problem.

    They have earned my business for a long time to come, and that says something in this day and age.

  21. I’m using an iPhone and have not experience a SINGLE issue with its signal strength or anything what so ever. The phone in my opinion is the best yet besides the Droid which I personally would trade the iPhone in for.

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